Shop Talk

Retailers, consumers and prices

How did the Grinch steal Christmas? By raising gas and food prices

September 22, 2008

grinch.jpgEvery Who down in Who-ville liked Christmas a lot … But the Grinch, who lived in a condo with an adjustable-rate mortgage about to reset, did not!

The Grinch hated Christmas! The whole Christmas season! So do consumers this season, for good reason! It could be high gas and food prices, the fright. It could be, perhaps, the credit market, too tight.

But the most likely reason of all may be that money inside wallets is now small.

But,  whatever the reason, be it housing or credit, Fitch sees holiday sales weak, with no cause for improvement. No near-term catalyst will improve sale trends well into next year, and apparel and home goods will be the categories most feared.

Food and prescriptions will show relative strength, with discounters and warehouse clubs leading the way, as consumers trade down to save money, buying Who-roast in bulk to save.

Fitch’s report follows a Reuters/Zogby poll that nearly six times as many U.S. shoppers will cut back on gift-buying this holiday season than those who plan to spend more, as well as a forecast from research firm TNS Retail Forward that’s also poor.

TNS expects a mere 1.5 percent growth for holiday fourth-quarter retail sales, the worst in 17 years, as less money makes Who-ville temper its gift-giving cheer.





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